In a letter to employers dated March 7, 2018, Robert Bonack, Area Director for the Appleton, WI OSHA office, announced plans to increase enforcement of rules pertaining to noise and hearing conservation.
According to the letter, the manufacturing sector makes up only 13% of the US workforce, but accounts for 72% of all OSHA recordable hearing losses. Workers’ compensation claims for hearing loss exceed $240 million per year.
In response, OSHA Region V, which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, has announced a “Regional Emphasis Program” or “REP”, focusing on noise exposure.
OSHA offices in parts of that region will begin a series of free, voluntary outreach sessions to communicate the requirements to employers.
But along with those voluntary outreach sessions, OSHA will begin conducting enforcement inspections focusing on noise exposure at employers in 25 different North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes. These inspections will include a review of each employer’s hearing conservation program, including noise monitoring, audiograms, documentation, training, noise controls, etc. OSHA will also be conducting noise monitoring at these locations. Violations of OSHA requirements may result in penalties. The current average penalty for serious violations of these requirements is $4,235 each.
As of today, details of this program and the listing of affected NAICS codes have not been published on the OSHA website. However, it should be posted here at some point in the near future.
If you have questions about hearing conservation requirements, please call Paul at (612)597-6463.